Critics like to say singing talent isn’t necessary to succeed as an idol singer, but conversational skills are turning out to be very useful for these two groups.
In recent years, Japan’s idol music industry has been increasingly powered by hard-core fans who aren’t necessarily buying CDs for the music on them. Instead, they’ll buy multiple copies of the same single or album because that gives them more chances to win tickets to handshake events or other in-person appearances by the entertainers they’re so entranced by.
So perhaps idol unit i☆Ris (pronounced “Iris”) is on to something. Rather than having fans purchase CDs when what they really want is to spend a few moments connecting with (and possibly proposing marriage to) their favorite member of the group, i☆Ris has streamlined the process with a new promotion that simply lets fans pay money to talk with them.
The opportunity is being offered through website Kimi Dake Live, which is selling three-minute blocks of Skype time for one-on-one conversations with the members of i☆Ris. Each of the six members will be available to chat on a different day, with Mayu Kubota starting things off on October 21, Saki Yamakita, Himika Akaneya, and Azuki Shibuya taking over on October 22, Yu Serizawa taking her turn on October 24, and Yuki Wakai closing things out on November 2. Each idol will work a lengthy shift, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and true super fans can make up to three reservations, for either a triple-helping of time with their personal favorite singer or to sample talking with half of the group.
So how much will these three minutes in conversational paradise set fans back? A cool 10,000 yen (US$97). However, CD albums in Japan regularly cost about 3,000 yen, and as we mentioned, passionate idol fans often buy multiple copies. As such, even with 49 time slots per i☆Ris member, reservations are already starting to fill up.
▼ A portion of Kubota’s reservation page
If you’re looking for less-expensive idol video chat options, Kimi Dake Live is also offering the chance to talk with members of singer/voice actress group Sunmyu, whose chat sessions will be held on October 20 and 26 and are priced at 3,500 yen. Reservations for both groups can be made here.
While the Skype chats will give fans a longer time to talk with the performers than they get at handshake events, three minutes still isn’t very long, so they’ll want to make the most of them, and possibly brush up on their talking-to-idols etiquette beforehand.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s wondering if the one time he had to demonstrate adapted lyrics to a translation client makes him a professional singer.